Happy International Women’s Day

Brent Szalay

At SEIVA, we recognise International Women’s Day as a day to celebrate women and recognise their social, economic, cultural and political impact on society. 

To celebrate, we have chosen to interview 4 wonderful women at SEIVA, who all share a unique journey as they are in different stages of their lives and careers. 

STACEY ZULUGA | DIRECTOR TAX AND ACCOUNTING

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day
It is an opportunity to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women in society and their communities.

What was your dream job as a young girl?
It changed a few times…. I can’t remember what I wanted to be as a very young girl, but at the end of primary school I wanted to be a bank teller. In the middle of secondary school I wanted to be a fashion designer. At the end of secondary school I was sitting on the fence between wanting to be an accountant or fashion designer. I decided to pursue a business and commerce degree majoring in accounting and management, thinking at the time it would be a good foundation. Here I am, 20 years later with that degree, many other qualifications too and have worked as an accountant and advisor in public practice for 17 years, managed and mentored a number of amazing people, while helping clients and small business owners everyday and loving it.   

Have you faced any barriers in your career being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
Yes, I have faced barriers in my career and I believe some of them have been because I am a woman.

I overcame them using a few tools or strategies including:

  • Stand up for what you feel is right
  • Have mentors around you that you can discuss issues with, use them as a sounding board
  • Find the confidence to say what you feel, it is likely you are not just speaking for yourself but for other women also
  • Question where you are, is it the right fit for you?
  • Know what you want and go for it
  • Challenge the status quo. Just because something has always been one way, is that the right way? Is that the only way? Is it the best way?
  • You don’t have to accept what you are being offered, you can negotiate 
  • If you don’t understand something, ask questions

Who inspires you the most in your career?
Strangely, those that inspire me in my career journey are mostly male. I think this is because I struggle to understand why being female should change my career journey and my goals. 

When I look around me, for my whole career, most senior roles were held my males. 

I was determined from pretty early on to set my goal on making it to a top role in my career, in my industry, as a female. If I could be the first female to hold a senior role in my organisation that would be the icing on the cake. Anyone who has worked with me or known me has known this is one of my goals and has seen me never waiver from it.

My husband and I have 2 daughters together, we raise our children to know that there are no such things a “girl jobs” and “boy jobs”. There are just jobs, and they shouldn’t let gender stereotypes get in the way.

My husband said it a lot around the time we had children, and still says it often today, “the only thing a father can’t do is grow the child in their belly for 40 weeks, give birth and breastfeed” – well not yet anyway, science may overcome these things in time! I raise this as I firmly believe that a woman taking time out from work to give birth to a child should not derail her career.

I am also a firm believer in why women have the rights they have today and continue develop in their careers and move into senior positions are for two main reasons.

  • Males, especially those in senior positions, have seen the potential in women and have supported and helped women develop the skills needed enabling them to be equal with their male counterparts to be ready for these senior positions.
  • Women who have made it to the senior positions, through hard work and likely having a male support them, have offered a hand down to another woman to pull her up.

What does diversity in the workplace mean at SEIVA?
Diversity at SEIVA can mean anything, it is so broad. It ranges from age, nationality, sexuality, where you live, where you work, religious beliefs. We are a very inclusive team and love to learn about others. 

What’s the proudest moment in your life so far?
Proudest moment in life so far – becoming a parent (it is a life changing experience – nothing compares to it).

Proudest moment in my career so far – My current role, Director – Accounting and Tax at SEIVA. I love the mix of helping our clients while supporting & mentoring our compliance team and working on the strategic side of our business.  

CHARLOTTE PEARSON | ACCOUNTANT

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day
I think it is important to acknowledge what women have been able to achieve in the last 100 years. Women in history have had to fight for our right to vote, right to own property, right to have equal pay and to have a voice. However, we must also acknowledge that there is still a long way to go. In 2019, it was found there were more CEO’s named “Andrew” leading ASX 200 companies than there are women. While it is now illegal not to have equal pay, it doesn’t mean it still doesn’t happen. It is also an indisputable that for many different reasons women still aren’t given the same opportunities to develop their careers in the same way men are. 

Women also still have many personal challenges; on average one women a week is killed by a current or former partner. This is a frightening statistic. Some countries have been reversing reproductive rights and, in some countries, women have lost the right to be educated and to work entirely. International Women’s Day is a celebration but also an acknowledgment that more work needs to be done to bring about gender equality.

What was your dream job as a young girl?
Like most young children I constantly changed my mind as to what was my dream job.  If I went on an aeroplane, I dreamed of becoming an air hostess or pilot!  As I became older, I knew that I wanted a career in finance or money.  As a young child I played with coins and created spreadsheets. My grandpa is an accountant so this gave me an opportunity to do work experience while I was at school and then work as an undergraduate in his firm while I completed my commerce degree. 

Have you faced any barriers in your career being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
I have been very fortunate that I am in a time was born in a time where I have not had to face the same barriers as women before me. I have been fortunate to work at workplaces that have treated me as an equal and never made me question if there was bias against me. While I was growing up, being “smart” and achieving great results was celebrated and I was always told girls didn’t need to pretend to be “dumb”  to be cute.

Who inspires you the most in your career?
In my career, my grandpa has been my inspiration. He is nearly 80 and still puts on his suit and goes to work every day. I hope I still have that same passion when I am 80. However, my desire to continue to study and develop in my work would be my Mum. She has always furthered her education, finding the next thing to study. She has balanced being the breadwinner and being a present mother, something one day I inspire to do. 

What does diversity in the workplace mean at SEIVA?
SEVIA has a dynamic and diverse workplace. Differences in social, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation are all celebrated. Every year we have a day of eating called “Taste of Harmony”. It’s a day where we celebrate different cultures and backgrounds in the way of food. I am proud that SEIVA is always trying to find ways to be more inclusive and give every person a voice. 

What’s the proudest moment in your life so far?
This question makes me realise there is so much I still need to accomplish. A defining proud moment would be obtaining my degree with distinction. Today I am proud that I have started to find my voice and confidence in my work. I used to fear calling clients because I was scared that I would be asked something I didn’t know the answer.  Now I don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. 

DOMENIQUE VASILE | CLIENT ADVISOR

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
It’s a day to celebrate the successful steps we have taken towards gender equality.  It’s a day for both men and women to celebrate and continue the work on gender parity for our generation and those to come all over the world.

What was your dream job as a young girl?
As a young girl, my dream job was to be a lawyer.  I’m an accountant who is now studying a Master in Tax Law – so pretty close.

Have you faced any barriers in your career being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
Yes, believe it or not in past jobs I have actually had fellow male employees make comments such as; “Why do you work full time? When my children were young, my wife stayed home and looked after them”.  My response back to him was “I am working FOR my children”.  

Who inspires you the most in your career?
I’m inspired everyday by the amazing team at SEIVA.  I work with a very talented, inclusive and compassionate group of people.  

What does diversity in the workplace mean at SEIVA?
Diversity at SEIVA means that everyone is 100% accepted for being who they truly are.  

What’s the proudest moment in your life so far?
I have 2 proudest moments and they are my children, the day they were born.  I’m proud of many successful projects over the years, however nothing compares to those 2 little faces.

ENCI REZAEI  | SENIOR ACCOUNTANT

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day
I am torn on this one – some part of me thinks there is no need to celebrate International Woman’s Day as there should not be any difference between Men and Women. There is no International Men’s Day, why should Women have a specific day to celebrate – Some other part of me though thinks it might be a good reminder for us women to have a specific day to remind ourselves how awesome we are and how successfully we handle/ balance work/home duties. No matter how open-minded the world gets, there are still some expectations for women to raise children and run a house like they don’t work, AND at the same time work like they don’t have children / run the house… for this matter only, we may need to have the IWD to celebrate our achievement and give ourself a pad on the back!

What was your dream job as a young girl?
Flight Attendant – I really loved airplanes and flying, but when I was little being a pilot was not an option for women in my home country so I thought a Flight Attendant was close enough.

Have you faced any barriers in your career being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
Thankfully haven’t experienced any barriers so far being a Woman Accountant.

Who inspires you the most in your career?
One of my teachers at high school – very kind, friendly and strong woman who was very determined on teaching students more than just numbers. She was one of the first ones to teach me that “you are who is making your own destiny, try hard for what you dream”

What does diversity in the workplace mean at SEIVA?
At SEIVA we are very lucky to work with bunch of amazing people who make work fun and value each person equally regardless of their gender – this wouldn’t happen without Brent, Darko and Sam who have introduced the best culture in the workplace.

What’s the proudest moment in your life so far? 
When I held my girl for the first time was by far my proudest yet the happiest moment of my life.

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